An Exploration into the Influence of Servicescape Cues on Perceptions of Counterfeit Products.

Counsell, Natalie Kate Rebecca (2012) An Exploration into the Influence of Servicescape Cues on Perceptions of Counterfeit Products. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The purpose of this research is to examine the role of servicescape theory in the counterfeit context and explore the extent to which servicescape cues influence perceptions of counterfeit products.


Following extensive examination of the current literature surrounding counterfeit activity it was discovered that counterfeits can be sold in a variety of environments; market stalls and car boots sales through to the legitimate retail environments. In the instances where the counterfeit has been integrated into the legitimate retail environment, weaknesses in the supply chain are usually to blame. These occurrences can be a major concern for both brands and consumers as they pose not only a risk to brand image but also a threat to consumer safety.
Much of the current literature which explores consumer perceptions of counterfeit products concentrates on tangible product attributes and their influence. This research expands the current knowledge by examining further influential factors in the form of environmental cues. As a means of discussing the various elements which constitute a retail environment, the concept of servicescape is incorporated and analysed into the literature discussion. Following a comprehensive exploration of the various cues that may be present within a retail environment, the extent to which these cues influence consumer behaviour is explored.
Further to this, as a means of understanding the ways consumers generate perceptions of counterfeit products, the processes of sensation and perception are analysed.


The methodology chapter contained within this thesis considers both the philosophical positioning and the data collection methods used by this research. The philosophical positioning of the researcher is one of a constructivist-interpretive nature. Focus groups in conjunction with photo elicitation were the core data collection methods used. This combination of methods allowed an excellent opportunity for discussion and insights to be gathered and emotions to be recorded surrounding the issues of counterfeiting, servicescape and perception formation.


The findings which were identified by this research contribute extensively to the existing knowledge regarding counterfeiting and servicescape. The key themes highlighted the influence of human variables on perceptions of counterfeit products. Within this theme were a number of subsidiary themes including the influence of image, socio-demographics, other individuals within the counterfeit purchase environment, customer characteristics, human/social crowding and the influence of staff in the counterfeit purchase environment. In addition to this, levels of privacy also appeared to be an influential cue amongst participants in relation to their perceptions of product authenticity. Levels of spatial crowding were also an influential factor used by the research participants as a means of forming perceptions regarding product authenticity. From examination of the data, it was also made apparent that branding categorisation within a counterfeit purchase environment was particularly influential. Finally, servicescape permanency was noted to be a key theme throughout the focus group discussions. It appeared that a purchase environment‟s level of permanency was a key influencer when determining whether or not it sold counterfeit products.

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